Most Australians do not believe that government international aid should be used to fund abortions, Caritas Australia CEO Jack de Groot says.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports Mr de Groot said that if the Government was reviewing aid guidelines it should acknowledge the church's role in providing primary health care in many poor countries.
"Most Australians do not believe that our government's international aid program should be spent on procuring abortions," Mr de Groot said.According to the paper, the Rudd Government is considering overturning the Howard government's ban on Australian overseas aid being used to fund abortions in poor countries.
This year the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, a Catholic, began a review of AusAID's family planning guidelines, establishing a subcommittee of Labor MPs to examine the issue.
Labor's Catholic Right opposes changes to the guidelines, which say government aid funds must not be used for abortions or contraceptives that are not registered in Australia.
But with a well-organised cross-party group of MPs pressing for the guidelines to be scrapped, anti-abortion Labor MPs fear they do not have the numbers in the caucus.
According to the Herald, some believe Mr Smith, arguably the most senior Catholic in the cabinet, is determined to change the guidelines. But he is insisting he will take the views of government MPs into account before reaching a decision.Fetus photo frightens MPs
Meanwhile, Victorian DLP Upper House MP Peter Kavanagh has sparked outrage after emailing colleagues a graphic image of a fetus being operated on, news.com.au reports.
Mr Kavanagh yesterday emailed all state MPs an image of a then 21-week-old fetus being operated on.
The fetus appears to be holding the hand of a medico, who was performing life-saving surgery. The fetus was not being aborted but was used by Mr Kavanagh as evidence that life does not start at birth.
But Liberal MP Ken Smith was furious the image was sent, adding that only "a very sick man" would use the operation to back his case.
"I just can't believe he could send that stuff around," Mr Smith said.
Mr Kavanagh said the reaction from MPs had been divided, but he believed many did not realise the fetus was in fact alive.
"It isn't an abortion," he said. "It was a powerful image and it was unfortunate that MPs did not engage in the debate.
"I think they're required to debate and keep an open mind," he said.
"It has relevance to the abortion debate."SOURCE
A moral test for true believers, Rudd style (Sydney Morning Herald, 5/6/08)
Aid groups respond to abortion funding (ABC, 4/6/08)
s image email outrages colleagues (News.com.au, 4/6/08)